J-Slanted: Can He Do It?

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By JORDAN IKEDA

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For those of you out there who were possibly getting worried about the state of Ichiro Suzuki, well, rest assured that everything appears to be back on course. After enduring what has seemed like a season-long slump that dipped shockingly bad in July to a .246 average, Ichiro warmed up in August, and is absolutely scorching right now. For September, Ichiro is batting a blistering .387 and on pace to record 211 hits. No. 51 is only 19 hits shy of reaching 200 hits for the tenth consecutive season, which would break the all-time record of nine consecutive he set last year.
While this record will probably not get a lot of coverage (last season, his achievement was nary a blip on an admittedly crowded sports month), it should be noted that his accomplishment is truly remarkable. It is not only a testament to his skill as a hitter, but also his commitment to maintaining a healthy body, and his uncanny ability to remain so consistent. He is, after all, a lifetime .331 hitter.
Not sure what this record will mean for his Hall of Fame chances, but it certainly won’t hurt.

Here’s an interesting tidbit of information: Hiroki Kuroda, despite a career 3.61 ERA, is two games under .500 in Dodgers blue. So, after an absolute gem of a game where he gave up one hit in 7.2 innings against the Phillies, Kuroda threw another overly sufficient game, but instead took the loss—the Dodgers failing, for a sixth time, to score a single run for him. So, what do I think of his chances to finish his career as a Dodger with a record over .500? Not good.

The 33-year-old has about 5-6 starts left including tomorrow’s game against Houston’s J.A. Happ and he’ll need to win at least three without losing any to surpass that .500 record. While Happ is having a strong season since coming over from the Phillies, Houston is the third worst scoring offense in the Majors, which bodes somewhat favorably for Kuroda.

But he’s still got games against San Diego, San Francisco and Colorado.

Finally, it’s safe to say that the addition of Hideki Matsui has not worked out quite like everyone involved had been initially hoping. Sure, he’s batted .291 in 37 games since the All-Star break and spanked eight home runs over that span, but it’s far little too late seeing as how the Angels are 9.5 back in the AL West and 18.5 out of the wild card. Wow, it’s been a while since we’ve been subjected to a bad year for a Mike Scioscia-led ball club. Just one of those years apparently.

Take, for instance, the player that Matsui replaced. Vladimir Guerrero is enjoying a nice bounce-back season, though his decline is still evident (leading me to believe the Angels probably made the right decision, even though Vladi was my favorite player). He’s hitting at a .295 clip and has already smashed 26 long balls to go along with 107 RBI. In contrast, not a single Angel has more than 75 RBI. No Angel has more than 22 home runs.

Yeah. Just one of those years…

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Jordan Ikeda is the Rafu sports editor. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Rafu Shimpo.

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